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In my modest opinion the film Millers Crossing is Ethan and Joel Coens greatest achievement to date even greater than Fargo and Oh Brother Where Art Thou The only criticism Ive heard of this film has to do with the over-acting--a criticism that has been directed at more than one Coen film Admittedly Coen screenplays read more like novels than movie scripts and are not always actor-friendly The story starts with Tom Gabriel Byrne a loyal lieutenant of a crime boss named Leo Albert Finney who is in a Prohibition-era turf war with his major rival Johnny Caspar Jon Polito A man of principle Tom nevertheless is romantically involved with Leos lover Marcia Gay Harden whose screwy brother John Turturro escapes a hit ordered by Caspar only to become Toms problem Making matters worse Tom has outstanding gambling debts he cant pay which keeps him in regular touch with a punishing enforcer The friendship between Leo and Tom is severed when they both fall in love with Verna Tom joins ranks with Johnny Caspar and a bloody gang war erupts A little kingpin with an inferiority complex he is easily manipulated by Tom who convinces him that his henchman Dane is in cahoots with Bernie allegedly Danes homosexual lover Whether straight or gay the brutes find it impossible to cope with their feelings which erupt in a volley of bullets and bashed brains If Toms heart is pierced at all it is merely for taking the pulse of the times The Coens are playing a controlling game the same as their cast of characters and control frustrates passion irrevocably Love among these gangsters is a hard-luck affair With all the energy the Coens put into their films and all their focused appreciation of genre conventions and rules and all their efforts to turn their movies
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